B.C. man dies of rabies after contact with a bat on Vancouver Island

VANCOUVER, B.C. -- A man has died of rabies after coming in contact with a bat on Vancouver Island, according to The Vancouver Sun.

The Ministry of Health says the 21-year-old man was in contact with a bat in mid-May. It says he did not develop symptoms compatible with rabies until this month. He did not have any visible bite or scratch marks.

The paper reports the man died Saturday at a Vancouver hospital. Family members and those close to the man are taking preventative measures.

According to The Sun, this is the first confirmed death from rabies in B.C. since 2003. There have only been 24 known cases in Canada since the 1920s.

The paper says about 13 percent of bats tested in B.C. are positive for rabies.

According to the Washington Department of Health, about 3-10 percent of bats tested are found to be rabid in the state. Rabid bats have been found in almost every county.

Anyone in contact with a bat is advised to wash the area with soap and water and contact your healthcare provider immediately.

Symptoms normally appear two to eight weeks after exposure, but the incubation period may vary. Early symptoms include headache, fever and sometimes pain at the site of exposure. It could turn into more severe nervous system illness.

A reminder, health officials say never handle a bat with bare hands. You can see more tips for what you should do if you find a bat in your living space here.